Polarities: Patterns in Time
1880/2016, 2.3 Degrees Fahrenheit*

This exhibition was inspired by the book, The Polar and Tropical Worlds, by Dr. G. Hartwig. The works in this exhibit continues my dance with history and place. I have been fortunate to have lived in many places, and reflecting on these itinerant experiences have greatly influenced the direction of my work. The question I ask is, how is the history of a place revealed in the layers of its current culture and what parts of that history have migrated or changed migratory realities?

For over thirty years I have been collecting nineteenth century books about travel and discovery. This collection of books seems divided by genres, as either adventure, with Romanticism’s emphasis on heroic individualism; or as pious musings. Hartwig’s book includes both genres and is illustrated by local artists from the various regions, who are not acknowledged in the text. Here I resurrect their works in a contemporary context reflecting on the changes over time.

My series, “Polarities: Patterns in Time,” is a mix of observations and appropriations seeking to layer history with an awareness of our times as a fertile metaphor of our environmental impact over time. For the shifting patterns in both regions, polar and tropical, I seek to create sensual, tactile images to engage the viewer to ponder the future of this planet.

The process of creating this work owes much to my printmaking background and love of layered surfaces. I juxtapose flat and iridescent colors with screen-printing and sand and carve each layer to create a visual history. The lace patterns are a nineteenth century convention that both beautify and define the domesticated environment; I use them to suggest the ethos of reclamation.


Rita Robillard, 2016,
In memory of Miriam Schapiro, 1923-2015

* Henry Fountain, 7.19.16 The New York Times article on climate change.